One in 20 women can't speak English in '˜segregated' Bradford

THE leader of Bradford Council has defended the city's record on integration after divided communities in Yorkshire were the focus of a Government-commissioned report.

Bradford city centre.

Dame Louise Casey highlighted figures showing Bradford has some of the wards with the highest concentrations of people from ethnic minority groups in the country and high levels of segregation in schools.

One in 20 women in the city cannot speak English well or at all, according to census figures featured in the report.

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Dame Louise argued “misogyny and patriarchy” in some communities across the UK was marginalising women and preventing integration as she called for the country to face up to “difficult” issues.

Her report made a series of recommendations including teaching British values in schools, improving access to English language lessons and requiring public officials to swear an integration oath.

Bradford Council leader Susan Hinchcliffe said: “Most people speak good English but for others poor English limits their ability to integrate.

“Some neighbourhoods are largely mono-cultural with poor quality housing. Some schools don’t reflect all our diversity because many children quite naturally attend the nearest one.

“We don’t turn a blind eye or consign these issues to the ‘too hard’ box.

“Our people and organisations work relentlessly on them and Bradford can demonstrate lots of good work.”

Coun Hinchcliffe said Bradford’s public spaces “are some of the most diverse in the country” and the city’s major businesses “have increasingly diverse workforces”.

She added: “We’ve have had some successes but we aren’t complacent.

“We are active and vigilant. Bradford’s long-term resilience depends on ensuring that our youth and global connections represent strengths not liabilities and that inequality is addressed effectively.”

Dame Louise’s report found that parts of Britain have become more divided as the country as a whole has become more diverse.

It said some communities had struggled with the pace of change and highlighted the influx of Roma people into Sheffield.

She said: “In Sheffield I didn’t find it difficult to find people really struggling with the vast numbers of people coming in from Eastern Europe and the Roma community.

“One school has gone from less than five per cent non-UK nationals to 95 per cent non-UK nationals within a few years.

“That type of change, the impact of immigration and other population changes has been huge and we haven’t been on an integration strategy.”

The report was criticised for focusing too heavily on Muslim communities.

Mohammed Shafiq, chief executive of the Ramadhan Foundation, described the report as “inflammatory, divisive, pandering to the agenda of the far right”.

“We are saddened that once again British Muslims have become a political football which is bashed from time to time without any regard for the impact this has on individuals who then are subjected to threats and violence.”